What to Expect from a Mini-Wing

The Missing Manual to Your New Itty-Bitty Paraglider

Two Ozone Zero mini-wings fly over Peru.
Two Ozone Zero mini-wings fly over Peru. Image © Loren Cox

Picked up a new mini-wing? Awesome. Here's what you need to know to make those first flights a resounding success.

...In the Classroom

If you’re scratching your head, you’re not alone—a whole lot of skydivers and BASE jumpers pick up small paragliders (and speedwings) without bothering to seek formal training. Freefall and free flight are essentially different activities.

If you’re coming from the former, you can be assured that you are not equipped with a basic-level understanding of air law, aerology and flying techniques.

Do yourself a favor and get licensed before you even ground-handle a paraglider or speed wing of any kind.

...At Launch

Because a mini-wing doesn’t have the raw power of a standard paraglider, you won’t get a lot of pully-tuggy feedback from the wing on the ground. You can—and should—be much gentler with the risers when you pull the wing overhead, and significantly subtler with your movements as you kite. The feeling is generally easier and more intuitive than a standard paraglider (which is one of the mini-wing’s many benefits).

The lift ratio of a mini-wing is higher than that of a standard glider. For this reason, you’re going to need to run faster on launch, especially in low- and no-wind conditions, as a mini-wing needs to be smoothly launched at speed.

As you launch, remember not to jab the brakes until the wing is airborne (mini-wings don’t need the same rock-solid “check” that you give your standard wing to keep it from overflying you).

Finally, don’t sit down in your harness too quickly—that move will lose you more height than you’re used to, and you might give your tailbone a solid knock (or worse).

...In The Air

As opposed to speedwings, mini-wings are designed to thermal and soar in the same way as regular paragliders—so you’ll use the same types of inputs for a mini-wing that you do for your standard paraglider, just in subtly different ways.

For your first mini-wing flights, give yourself some space. Allow yourself a solid separation from the ground. As in every downsizing situation in airsports, the same turn under a mini-wing will lose more altitude than it would under a standard paraglider.

They also turn more tightly, and the extra speed delivers a sweet feeling of agility. Get a feel for the dynamic on your first flights, and allow for more altitude for each maneuver than you’d usually need.

It’s important to be gentle with your inputs. Toggle-happy flying is even more inappropriate for a mini-wing than it is on a standard paraglider, as a mini-wing will lose even more altitude—and faster—from toggle-yanking, and it may put the small wing’s naturally-more-stable design into an (otherwise unlikely) collapse. (Because mini-wings have a higher wing loading and shorter lines, the pilot is automatically swung under the glider when the wing is off-balance; toggle-yanking introduces instability when the wing is “trying” to correct itself.)

...On Landing

Call a halt on wingovers as you line up for your final approach, or the mini-wing’s increased sink rate during turns may give you a much quicker landing than you bargained for.

Instead, anticipate a long final approach, with more speed than you’re used to and somewhat less glide.

The flare won’t be significantly different than what you’re used to—but remember to stand up in plenty of time for the landing, so the quicker sink doesn’t catch you off-guard.

Finally: be ready with the high-fives when you land. They're comin'.

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Your Citation
O'Neil, Annette. "What to Expect from a Mini-Wing." ThoughtCo, Dec. 3, 2015, thoughtco.com/expect-from-a-mini-wing-1240289. O'Neil, Annette. (2015, December 3). What to Expect from a Mini-Wing. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/expect-from-a-mini-wing-1240289 O'Neil, Annette. "What to Expect from a Mini-Wing." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/expect-from-a-mini-wing-1240289 (accessed November 18, 2017).